When my doctor told me I was diabetic just three days before Christmas 2015 he reviewed my test results with me, then gave me prescriptions for the required equipment for blood monitoring and for Metformin (at the lowest dose – starting on half of that to make sure I didn’t react to it.) Other than that, I was left to figure the rest out myself.
I already knew carbohydrates were my nemesis. I had been informed I was pre-diabetic back in 2002 and at that time had gone to “diabetes school” at the hospital and routinely tested my blood sugar for a month. That showed that carbs were not my friends. I went for regular blood work (every four months) for a number of years and was always in range so I stopped going for the tests.
In hindsight, that wasn’t my best idea. If I had continued with the tests I could probably have stopped the progression to full-blown Type 2 diabetes, the diabetic retinopathy and the other issues. But… it is what it is.
So I started my prescription and pricking my finger half a dozen times a day while researching diets and meal planning. I have to say there are a lot of really bad diet plans being touted as “diabetic”… and by the diabetic organizations which shocked me. Even with my limited knowledge I KNEW I could NOT eat carbs at every meal and every snack and still manage to lower my blood sugar.
In doing my research online I skimmed over different diets like Paleo and Ketogenic. The no carb aspect made a lot of sense to me, but there were aspects of both I wasn’t interested in.
Right away I cut sugar completely out of my diet. It wasn’t difficult for me. While I liked sweets I never craved them. I preferred savory treats most of the time – like potato chips! I didn’t use sweeteners in my coffee or tea, didn’t add sugar to anything, etc. so it wasn’t really something that caused me any problem. And I haven’t been tempted at all.
And sugar includes pretty much all fruit as well for me. The only things I seem to be able to manage are Mott’s Unsweetened Apple Sauce – it is the only brand that doesn’t cause a spike in my blood sugar (I think it is the type of apple they use) and a tablespoon of mashed strawberries mixed into plain full fat yoghurt that I make frozen yoghurt pops with. I tried other fruit and I can’t manage it. I do miss watermelon, I admit.
And I can eat one square of a Lindt 85% Cocoa Chocolate Bar without any effect on my blood sugar – that is my occasional treat.
I also do not use sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners. A lot of things are actually quite sweet once your taste buds adapt – like milk and cream and cream cheese!
For the first couple of weeks I TRIED to keep carbs in my diet to a certain extent – a piece of whole wheat toast with my egg for breakfast, Wasa bread with cream cheese for lunch, six potato chips with dip… Unfortunately they all caused significant spikes in my blood sugar.
To me, increasing the medication was NOT an option. My goal is to get off of medication, not increase it. So, as I did not want to go blind or worse, with regret I cut out all the carbs.
I went through the house, removing all the food that I could no longer eat. I gave it all away – pasta, popcorn, chips, crackers, canned soups, canned beans, flour, rice, tortillas, noodles, bread, buns, frozen peas/corn, potatoes, carrots, frozen fries, frozen dinners, breaded chicken/fish, sauces, juices, candy – there was a LOT of stuff.
I did try to use brown rice flour, amaranth flour, rye flour in place of white flour – but nope, still caused my blood sugar to spike. I tried to make “low” carb versions of oatmeal cookies with no sugar – they were really excellent (recipe is shared on the blog here) but two cookies caused a 6 point spike!
I spent a fortune buying coconut flour, almond flour, etc. to make carb-less “substitutes.” What a waste of money and time! Practically all of the recipes in no way resembled what they claimed to be. One was sort of okay, but barely.
It only took me about a month and a half to give up on carbs and the so-called replacements for them. I just accepted that those things are no longer part of my life, and moved on.
I read about the LCHF – low carb, high fat – diet, or rather, lifestyle. That made a lot of sense to me. I was already pretty much eating according to that description by then. I don’t follow it exactly, but it is the closest to how I am eating.
My intake of vegetables increased substantially, and with every meal. But no potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, parsnips, beets, yams, etc. I eat very little tomato – it is a fruit and therefore high in sugar. Celery and cucumbers became my best friends.
I kept all the dairy – full fat as always: butter, cheese of all types, yoghurt, sour cream, 18% m.f. coffee cream. But never pre-grated cheeses due to the cellulose that is added to it – I can’t digest it.
Protein with every meal and as snacks – pork (ham, bacon, roast, sausages, chops, ribs, etc.), lamb, chicken, turkey, eggs (lots of eggs), bison, cured meat like turkey pepperoni and European wieners, fish, etc. I can’t eat beef due to an allergy.
And after over eight months of eating this way it is completely normal for me. I have no interest in eating carbs or “cheating” in any way at all. I’ve even made cookies and things for other people without the slightest interest in licking my fingers.
That’s not to say I don’t miss potatoes, I do. But I’d rather be healthy.
I like to try out interesting food combinations and spices. I make my own spice blends. I eat a lot of frittatas and omelettes with various ingredients, I coat pork chops and chicken with seasoned ground almonds, I make lots of stir-fries. I cook with butter, olive oil, and peanut oil. And I don’t miss the carbs that would usually accompany things anymore.
I get inspired by recipes I see and experiment. You can take the carbs out of recipes and make them anyway – like, no breadcrumbs in meatloaf, or no flour or cornstarch as thickeners in sauces. Some work well, others need adjusting. That’s why I call it experimenting.
My next experiment is a low carb, no tomato, vegetable lasagna this weekend – stay tuned for a post if it turns out!
For snacks I eat things like nuts, hard-boiled eggs, baked parmesan chips, celery with unsweetened peanut butter or cream cheese, seaweed, cheese, veggies with dips like tzatziki or guacamole and turkey pepperoni.
What I’ve discovered is that I am not hungry anymore. I don’t need a snack during the day, and lately I don’t have anything after dinner most nights either. This apparently is because my blood sugars aren’t spiking and plummeting due to eating carbs and sugar any longer, based on what I’ve been reading.
It is all interesting and quite amazing how this is changing my life. My blood sugar is in range all the time – I am still on Metformin but hope to get off it (I see my doctor in October for my next check-up.) And since December I’ve lost 57 pounds. My goal was not to lose weight, although it was a desired result given my situation, but it is a side-effect of the low carb, high fat way of eating.
I’ve also been going to Curves since January which increased my activity level and am feeling a lot healthier and have a lot more stamina. I recently started adding the treadmill to my workouts and each day cover a longer distance. I’ve no plans to pump iron or run races, but would love to tighten up the sagging butt! The loose skin from such a big drop in weight at my age is quite… um, let’s just say I will never wear shorts or sleeveless tops in public – not that I ever have, but, you know…
This is me in 2002 vs 2016 – over 100 lbs difference.